Hard Rain Journal 7-11-06: Bird Flu Update – Woe in Indonesia, Concern in Africa, & Preparedness in An Australian Resort & Small Town USA
By Richard Power
"A man cleans pigeon droppings from a gutter in Indonesia. Half a world away, teenagers scavenge feathers from dead swans by a lake in Azerbaijan. Poor Turkish children play with chicken heads. All die within days. The lethal strain of bird flu, H5N1, has infected at least 229 people in 10 countries, killing 131, since the end of 2003. More than 200 million domestic chickens have died from the disease or been culled to slow its fatal spread, devastating the poultry industry in Asia and Europe…." (Natasha Bita, The Australian, 7-8-06)
The town of Peoria, Illinois is preparing for the arrival of bird flu “as early as September.” The Wayne County school district in northern New Jersey has launched an “initiative combining such common-sense measures with high-tech backup.” Tagalooma Resort in Queensland, Australia has a contingency plan that includes evacuation of vacationers, proper protocol for staff on the look-out for sick or dead birds, and a stockpile 1,000 disposable masks.
But unfortunately, most small towns, school districts and vacation resorts, whether in the USA, or Australia, or anywhere else, are not ready, and many are not even acknowledging that the threat is real.
Some experts say there is a 10% chance that bird flu will turn into a global pandemic; other experts say there is a 50% chance. Either way, you should factor some contingency for it into your life.
The bird flu planning and preparedness that you undertake now will serve you, your loved ones, your business and your community well -- whether a pandemic comes or not -- because in the process, you will have gone a long way toward getting you and yours ready for a wide range of unpredictable, life-disrupting events that could strike at any time, e.g., other health emergencies, natural disasters, infrastructure failures, terrorist attacks, etc.
The threat of a global bird flu pandemic is real. Although the greatest problem is currently in Indonesia (and probably China), and the greatest concern for the immediate future is in Africa, everyone everywhere is at risk.
I monitor the situation closely, and include major developments in the bi-weekly GS(3) Intelligence Briefings. Urgent information or recommendations will be delivered as GS(3) Thunderbolts.
Here are excerpts from five important stories, concerning Indonesia, Africa, Queensland, Peoria, and Wayne County (i.e., everyone everywhere) with links to the full texts and related posts:
While avian influenza has been successfully checked in Western Europe and much of Southeast Asia apart from Indonesia, it is still expanding in Africa and will remain a threat for years to come, FAO Deputy Director-General David Harcharik told a high-level meeting of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in Geneva today….HPAI [highly pathogenic avian influenza], he said, was still a source of concern in Indonesia and continued to spread in Africa, where it risked becoming endemic in several countries. Mr Harcharik cited difficulties in enforcing appropriate control measures such as culling, farmer compensation and checks on animal movements in African countries. Another complication was illegal trade in poultry.
Avian Influenza Still Expanding in Africa -- Disease Widely Checked But Could Pose Threat for Years, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (Rome), 7-10-06
Will ground zero be at Australia's door?....Since 2003, Australia has poured $599 million into quarantine, research and emergency planning for a pandemic. As it revised its emergency plan early in June - rationing vaccines to patients and their immediate carers - the most alarming case of possible human-to-human transmission to date unfolded on its doorstep, in North Sumatra….WHO epidemiologist, Steve Bjorge, reckons H5N1 is pandemic in Indonesian poultry, and is urging a mass cull of infected chooks. "There is a leak in the roof - this continuing transmission of the virus from bird to bird - and the ministry of health is just mopping up the floor every day," he says. Peter Daniels, assistant director of the CSIRO's Australian Animal Health Laboratory, argues that in Indonesia, where 240 million people live scattered across 18,000 islands, "it's difficult to know where poultry is dying at any given time". Likewise, China has 1.3 billion people across nearly 10 million sqkm. "It China is not a country that's visited much by people from elsewhere in the world," Daniels says. "So there's always a feeling we don't know everything that's going on."
Natasha Bita, All eyes on the enemy waiting by our door: Bird flu mutation "cause for concern", The Australian, 7-8-06
WHEN Tangalooma Resort director Brian Osborne mentions his bird flu pandemic plan among tourism colleagues, he's met with blank looks. Mr Osborne has heard of no other Queensland tourism business that has similar preparations in place but that's probably not surprising given the industry is into selling dreams rather than nightmares....Tangalooma Resort, which employs 240, has spent the past three months formulating a detailed plan to protect its workers and guests if avian flu reaches Australian shores. "We've put memos out to our staff to tell them if they find any birds sick or down that they aren't to touch them, they're to call our marine biologist straight away…just in case there is a possibility of them having some infection," Mr Osborne said. The resort also has evacuation plans in place to get guests back to the mainland and to airports, if necessary, so they can return home as soon as possible once word of a pandemic gets out….The resort has 1000 disposable masks stockpiled and another four with breathing apparatus.
Janelle Miles, Resort braces for pandemic, Courier Mail, 7-10-06
If the bird flu hits, your school district will be flying solo in handling it. That's the word from the state, and as a result, school faculties are scrambling this summer to plan for a daunting "what if?" Surreal scenarios have already emerged...Where do you confine a child who shows symptoms in school? What do parents do from there? How will special-needs students receive therapeutic services? Who would sanitize schools?…. Federal and state authorities have provided districts with checklists and guidelines but no directives or uniform response if illness hits an individual student or a community at large…. The Wayne district, a suburban system serving 8,800 students with a staff of about 800, has begun an initiative combining such common-sense measures with high-tech backup….By fall, all classrooms will be equipped with waterless hand sanitizing products. Children may be required to scrub their hands every two hours. Because viruses can live up to 2 hours on surfaces, teachers will have to frequently wipe down common areas. Teachers will be instructed on what signs to look for....If schools must close, students would take schoolbooks home. Teachers must be ready to provide students with monthlong outlines of assignments on paper. This summer, the district is creating links on school Web sites where assignments could be posted by grade and subject, and it aims to make the sites interactive. At least one administrator will be given the technology to pay staff electronically from home.
MARGARET K. COLLINS, Bird flu 101: Schools study for possibility of a pandemic, 7-9-06
Avian flu pandemic could hit central Illinois as early as September with migratory birds flying down the Illinois River waterway, and health officials are recommending households have two to three weeks of supplies in the event of widespread quarantines...."We're told to expect the flu to strike in waves at about six-week intervals," [Anne Fox, chief executive officer of American Red Cross Central Illinois Chapter] said, noting that 40 percent of the population could be sick or absent from work caring for sick family members….Fox suggests people get into the habit now of extra hand washing. Disease transmission can be from handshakes, door knobs, telephones, pens at grocery stores or doctor sign-in forms, computers, car door handles and gas station pumps. "Keep hands off your eyes, nose and lips. Practice good hygiene, and be aware of precautions," Fox said. "Proper hand washing means soap between fingers, back of hands and under fingernails for a period as long as it takes to sing 'Happy Birthday.' Use the paper towel to turn off the faucet and open the door.”…The Red Cross recommends a gallon of water a day per person and per pet. Stock nonperishable food, canned goods and a hand-operated can opener in the event of power outages. People in other countries have routinely used face masks, even when they walk in public, but Americans have resisted. However, health officials here now warn face masks should be part of supplies in preparation for flu pandemic.
CLARE HOWARD, Red Cross: Prepare for bird flu, Organization advises to stock up on water, food; central Illinois could see virus as early as September, Peoria Journal Star, 7-9-06
Hard Rain Journal 6-30-06: Bird Flu Update -- Four Important News Items
GS(3) Thunderbolt: Karo Cluster May Indicate Human to Human Transmission of Bird Flu
Words of Power #2: Indonesia’s State of Emergency on Bird Flu Demands Your Attention
Richard Power is the founder of GS(3) Intelligence and http://www.wordsofpower.net. His work focuses on the inter-related issues of security, sustainability and spirit, and how to overcome the challenges of terrorism, cyber crime, global warming, health emergencies, natural disasters, etc. You can reach him via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, go to www.wordsofpower.net
Bird Flu, H5N1, Avian+Flu, Pandemic, Health Emergency, United Nations, Indonesia, China, SARS, Crisis Management, Business Continuity, Australia, Africa, Illinois, New Jersey